Playing a pocket pair where there is no improvement on the flop

You look down to see a small pocket pair. You have gone to the flop and hit one of your two outs, and there is no flush or straight draw on the board and there is betting, that is one of the dream situations in poker.

However, 90% of the time your initial pair will not improve to a set on the flop, and in this situation, you are left with a few options. Here, we will explore what to do in more detail.

Now what it really comes down to is what pocket pair you had in the first place. If you have anything worthwhile (AA, KK, QQ), then you would have raised, therefore, you can assume that you are running against two other players at the very most.

In this situation if you miss you probably have an over-pair to the board unless you get unlucky. If you do have one, you should put out a strong continuation bet. If you have QQs, and the flop shows an ace and a king your hand is essentially dead, and you should be checking to fold because even a mediocre hand like A-J is miles in front of you.

If, on the other hand, you had a small or medium-sized pair and there are two or even three over cards on the flop, then you need to look at the action. Sticking out a decent-sized continuation bet may not be the worst shout on a poor board, but it may be safer to check and see the action.

If you can get a free card, that’s great, however, if there is a raise, you have to work out (based on the pot odds) if it makes sense you staying in the pot. For instance, say you have 8s against three runners (excluding you), and the board hits 3-J-A if there is a bet to you, then you are not going to get the right odds to see the turn.

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